UAFS new student enrollment up almost 7%, total enrollment up 2.5%

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 451 views 

Preliminary numbers show enrollment at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith totaled 5,521, up 2.5% compared with the same period in fall 2022. Enrollment of first time students totaled 890, up 6.8% compared with the same period in 2022, according to UAFS figures.

UAFS also reported new transfer students totaled 314, up 1%, and concurrent student enrollment totaled 1,309, up 15.3%. Total undergraduate enrollment stood at 4,169 as of Sept. 6.

“I am extremely proud of our admissions team and their hard work this past year. Our staff have worked tirelessly to remove barriers to the application and enrollment processes and on refining our messaging to prospective students and their families concerning the value of a UAFS education and the individualized support that they will receive here,” Blake Bedsole, UAFS director of admissions, said in a statement.

UAFS Chancellor Dr. Terisa Riley said the enrollment gains and “engagement of new students this fall” comes as the university was forced because of budget constraints to raise tuition and fees. Riley also said first-year student enrollment has almost rebounded from pre-COVID-19.

“Despite increases to our tuition and mandatory fees, we remain the most affordable 4-year, public university in Arkansas. We were exceptionally careful not to propose tuition and fee increases that outpaced the increase in Pell Grants awarded by the Department of Education because 57.6% of our students received Pell Grants this fall. We have higher than expected occupancy in on-campus housing due to our commitment not to raise rates which were already very competitive with other rental units in our region,” Dr. Riley noted in a statement to Talk Business & Politics.

She also noted that enrollment in the university’s Western Arkansas Technical Center (WATC) – which provides career and technical education to high school students in 22 regional district – has experienced 50% growth over the past five years, and an increase of about 26% over last year.

The state’s largest universities also posted enrollment gains. University of Arkansas enrollment at the Fayetteville campus rose by 3.9% to 32,140 students this fall. This is the first time UA enrollment has surpassed 32,000 students, according to university officials. Over the past five years, enrollment has increased by 15.7% from 27,778 in 2018. Enrollment fell slightly in 2019 to 27,559. The numbers include undergraduates, graduates and law students.

Arkansas State University set a new record with a preliminary fall enrollment with 14,903 students on the 11th day of classes. A-State’s previous all-time fall preliminary head count was 14,144 from fall 2017. The fall 2023 tally is a 6% jump from last fall’s 14,107 students.